Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Can I Do With This? Game

What Can I Do With This?

“A stitch in time saves nine.”

Notice that this pearl of wisdom doesn’t state nine what – stitches, cents, minutes or all of these?

“But I don’t sew,” you say.

No problem. It is very simple to sew on a button or to tack a seam by hand. All it requires is a needle, scissors and thread that matches the garment. In fact, if you secure the buttons before you wear the garment the first time you will probably never have to replace one as they will stay in place. The commercial sewing of buttons leaves a thread hanging and if you pull on that thread your button magically disappears. Once that happens you have to spend more than nine minutes finding another one, more than nine cents to purchase a new one and often more than nine minutes to sew it on if you count the time to get out your supplies, sew and put everything away.

The same principle holds true with many things. If you oil a squeaky hinge when it first starts to squeak, it won’t annoy you as much and it won’t wear out as fast.

Fix a leaky faucet and you save money on the water that drips down the drain and the faucet won’t wear out as fast.

Tighten a loose screw or bolt and it won’t fall out and disappear so you have to purchase a new one or throw the item away because you can’t find one the correct size.

But what if the item does break or wear out? What do you do with it? Throw it away? That is the American way after all – just toss it and go buy a new one. But remember, we are working on not spending extra money but learning how to change our wasteful habits.

The thrifty person looks at it first before tossing it to see if there is any part that can be used for another purpose.

Does it have a handle that will work on that case where the handle broke?

Do the small gears lend themselves to your latest art or craft project?

A plate breaks and after I get through being annoyed I wonder if I can use the pieces as mosaics in the new stepping stones for the patio.

My jeans have too many holes to repair – can I make a purse or an apron or a pot holder out of the useable pieces?

When something at our house breaks I hold it in my hand for a moment and try to imagine a new life for it.

Of course, not everything can be reused but you will find many items that can and save pennies or dollars with a small amount of thought and effort. Remember every penny you save this way you don’t have to pay the government taxes on again so it is really more than a penny saved.

One example of this is, I have a lovely brown stretch top in my shop that had a small spot on the front. Now it looked like new except for this small spot and I couldn’t bear to just toss it. I found a small piece of lace with a flower and leaves in it and cut them out, used some fusible webbing and attached the lace to the top. Then I added some fabric paint and a few amber and topaz colored glass beads. Instead of a spot, now I had a lovely lace bouquet on the front. Since this top was slightly too small as you can see from the picture I listed it on Etsy in hopes it will make someone else’s wardrobe sparkle.

Every item you reuse instead of discarding means that there is one less thing in your trash that you have to pay to have hauled away and one less thing in the landfill.

Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle, Recycle – make these words a part of your daily life and your piggy bank game will grow rapidly.
I'm in two Etsy groups that focus on reusing and recycling items: EcoEtsy and Trashion. When you visit Etsy, search for trashion or teamecoetsy and you will find a wealth of ideas and products to help you save money and be creative with your own items.


The Pear Project said...

I love to upcycle ... visit and look in the Jewelry section for some of my upcycled metal bracelets. I think you will like them!

Another thing I have been into lately is selling my old leftover supplies at and then posting what other people make with them in my blog. It's a fantastic way to clean house, and make sure all this "stuff" goes to good use!

kae1crafts said...

I love the idea of selling your leftover supplies and then blogging about what people make from their purchases. Great way to upcycle and promote.

Lily Pang said...


These are great advises. I think I can apply them to many of the things that are thrown away.